Previously: Simon, his two children and 88-year-old brother gear up, drive into the mountains and set up camp. Next morning, older brother Thayer collapses from dehydration. He rests all day.


The crack of dawn. With a little help from more pine needles and tinder, our fire willingly comes back to life, heating water for morning coffee.

8:30. Sitting at the picnic table, we drink that black elixir which fully awakens us and our appetites for the day ahead.

Thayer is up and stirs pancake mix. As they fry, our salivary glands come to life. I’ve never seen such light and fluffy pancakes before! We don’t even need syrup. We just grab ‘em and eat ‘em with our fingers. Boy!

The 8,000 foot elevation sure does a job on pancakes. I wish we could do that back home.

As we eat, Thayer comments. “When you’re young, you act like youth lasts forever.”

I return, “It does. It’s just that it jumps from one person to another! It’s generational.”

The conversation shifts, and Thayer says, “The Mountains teach you who you are … your limitations, your skills and what you need to learn.”

It’s a sad moment. I suggest that we all hike back to the general store, so Thayer can see how he tolerates the activity.

He shakes his head hard. “No! That it would be a waste of energy! It’s either go for the

whole trail or nothing at all.” He has just had to learn his physical limitations. He is finally resigned to this, and grudgingly agrees to not hiking into the backcountry. (Photo: Thayer makes pancakes over the fire.)

Thayer makes pancakes over the fire.

Thayer makes pancakes over the fire.

He says he has lost interest in anything else. The kids and I know that he does not have the strength and energy for his big goal, and we drop the issue. It is time to pack up and leave Kennedy Meadows before the 1 PM check-

out time.

Simon Stargazer (June ‘15) adds, “?This may seem like the end of a dream … but we’re ?not done yet!? ?I have a back up plan to save the trip, though we can’t save the real goal, which was to find GOLD! ?We will pursue the real gold: Golden memories to share for the rest of our lives!?”

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